- Fantasy Basho
Natsu 2021 Day Nine
Terutsuyoshi apparently saw Hoshoryu use the uchigake, inside leg trip, on Day Eight, then decided to use his own leg throw against with a kakenage, the hooking inner thigh throw. Hoshoryu then did himself one better by beating Shodai with a sotogake, the outer leg trip.
Match of The Day
Sekiwake 1 East Takayasu versus Ozeki 2 West Terunofuji
These two didn't have the match either man wanted, but it was entertaining anyway. Neither could get a hold from the tachiai, so they kept having a half-shoving/half-trying-a-grip battle around the ring. Takayasu did get Terunofuji to the edge first, but the big Mongolian came back strong. At that point, they took turns getting off balance. Eventually, Terunofuji's strength resulted in a slap down.
Terunofuji will only lose the Natsu basho if something truly remarkable happens. He has a two win lead, thanks to his wild win over Takayasu and Daieisho's victory over Takakeisho. Two wins isn't impossible to make up with 6 matches remaining, but it requires an undefeated rikishi to drop half his remaining matches. And Takakeisho, Mitakeumi, Ichinojo, Endo, or Chiyotairyu to win every match.
Of course, a playoff remains a possibility, and Takakeisho versus Terunofuji is still going to be a good battle. At this point, each win by Terunofuji just makes his chances to lift the Emperor's Cup much, much higher. His victory over Takayasu is telling. He was not performing his brand of sumo to the best of his ability. He lost the tachiai, and never really recovered. He had to bail out at the tawara and scramble. Then he won.
There is the bigger question of what happens if Terunofuji wins the yusho again. Back to back yusho wins by an Ozeki is the standard rule of thumb for Yokozuna promotion. Officially, it is that a wrestler demonstrates the appropriate power, strength, and hinkaku (often translated as dignity or grace, but much more complicated.) The two straight yusho has been a good rule because only Ozeki have won two straight yusho. Terunofuji won his yusho in March as a Sekiwake, so a promotion would be wildly unprecedented.
It's a good reminder everything Terunofuji is doing right now is unprecedented. Sumo injuries are usually devastating. Terunofuji had one of the worst series of unjuries, and he had to rebuild his career from Jonidan. Just making it back to Makuuchi was a notable feat. Since he came back to the top division in July 2020, he has won 66 matches over 6 basho. He still has 6 matches in that 6th basho, too.
That sounds a lot like Yokozuna level sumo, but the real test is about to come. Terunofuji will close out the Natsu basho with matches against Shodai, Asanoyama, and Takakeisho in some order. If he doesn't lose before seeing them, that could determine the possible Yokozuna promotion. It will definitely be the kinds of matches that could cause the unusual upset that changes the course of a basho. Lots of things are still in the balance, even if Terunofuji seems to be unassailable.